As is our little household tradition, we print up our own Christmas cards every year on a tiny, hand-operated letterpress. We usually try and let our experiences of the past year direct what the design is, and after the second year of pandemic-life, we almost didn’t get our cards made in time for the season, because we couldn’t think of anything exciting that happened in our house in 2021.
Then we spotted the elephant (or should it be cat?) in the room: Of course something totally awesome happened this year – I had my first children’s picture book published! So we went pretty simple with the design, and I drew up Asta driving another absurd vehicle, but in a Christmas stylee. It’s one of my favourite seasonal accoutrements, the yule log!
We’re always searching for unconventional ideas for our annual hand-letterpressed Christmas cards in my world. Always plenty of bad unconventional ideas come up (I actually think the Angel Grinder was pretty good!), but this year’s was a doozy: eggnog.
I’ve been spending Christmas outside of the UK for so long now I’m not sure if eggnog has finally been imported to these shores, but even in its cultural home of America, it still baffles me. It’s kind of like the milkshake you never wanted.
It doesn’t really taste eggy. It sits in the same American Holiday category as pumpkin pie in my mind – a kind of not-entirely-sweet thing that is equally misunderstood outside of the US. I’ve acquired a taste for pumpkin pie now, but every year I’m on that side of the Atlantic ocean at Christmastime, I drink eggnog and wonder why I’m doing it.
I even went to the effort this year of making my own eggnog from fresh ingredients – the real stuff is basically the same ingredient set as a good gelato, so nothing to be afraid of (though your pipes might feel differently). The homemade stuff was definitely better, but still utterly perplexing.
Perplexing – perfect for our Christmas cards! To print we went, with a nice little halftone pattern giving the illustration that extra bit of depth. Super satisfying!
Lilly and I were busy travelling a bit this autumn, so Christmas cards became a bit more of a clandestine operation than in past years. As usual, we struggled to come up with a design. When I sent Lilly a sketch of this it made her laugh, so in absence of a better idea I took a punt on it.
When the plates arrived, Lilly was worried that it wouldn’t be understood by most of our recipients, but sometimes you’ve just gotta be weird. Our rotund Santa has stolen the stollen (which wasn’t the only thing we believe to have been stolen in 2016… Ahem).
I went for slightly smaller cards this year thinking I would do a design that didn’t max out our tiny press so much, but I still ended up pushing the tiny Adana’s limits. We got surprisingly good results out of it though, and the silver ink highlighted the reasonable impression it made too!
With Christmas well and truly over, hopefully everybody has received all the Santa Cruiser cards destined for them by now! Here’s the story (and a few pictures behind the design.
I really wanted to do this illustration I came up with last christmas I called ‘The Nutkraken’ for our cards this year, but even after drawing it all up properly, the idea was nixed by Lilly.
Back at the drawing board post-it pad, I set about coming up with some other ideas, including this one I called ‘Santa and his Elvis’. This was nixed too:
Eventually we came back to trying to reflect what happened in the past year, and decided that getting bicycles was probably the biggest thing. I put Santa on various bicycles, including some more conventional bikes like our own, and fancy racing bikes like my cat stickers, but his rotund nature meant he was best suited to a very upright cruiser bike. Here’s the final sketch, before tidying up:
Ah, November. It’s that time of year when the days get so short you’ll miss the sunlight if you blink, and time to get the old Adana back in motion – it’s Christmas card time!
Lilly and I have been making hand-letterpressed Christmas cards for a while now. We come up with a new design each year, so now we have a little range of designs and feel a bit more organised than past years, I think it’s about damn time I put some up for sale!
As you should see in the lead photo, I have four designs up for sale:
Sleighbell Safari – I haven’t printed this one yet, but it will be a nice black and silver print. Buy Here
…or if you can’t decide which ones you like the best, you can also buy a multipack of all four designs here!
The cards are all printed on a very nice 300gsm Somerset paper stock, so they’re nice and heavy and when combined with the letterpressed artwork, there’s a wonderful tactility to them – something you could never dream of getting from an e-card! All cards will also come with an appropriately sized and coloured envelope – either red or silver.
I’m calling this a speed sale because by the nature of Christmas coming on a fixed date, they’re only going to be up for sale for a couple of weeks. All orders will be printed up and posted out to you by 1st December, which should give you plenty of time to fill out the cards and get them into the mail to your friends and enemies before Royal Mail’s own deadline.
Head over to my tiny webshop now to get your orders in, and send your friends some hand-printed and totally unique christmas cards – receiving mail is awesome!
This year’s Christmas card was another mini-adventure. Lilly and I were kicking around several ideas before we arrived at the final design. The front-running idea we had I called Fat Santa Monkey Bauble:
He was cute, but Lilly was struggling with his sack and we realised a three-colour job (one of the colours white) would’ve been a bit ambitious for our tiny press. We sat there trying to think up some other ideas, and because our flat is littered with my washing-machine-based artwork, Lilly suggested we did some kind of festive washing machine.
It might be me with the washer obsession, but this card was Lilly’s idea. I’ve taught her well!
The post-it notes came out, and this scrawl met Lilly’s approval…
…Then with a bit of reworking (Lilly said he should be smiling proudly at his washer, not frowning at its extravagant spin as I had imagined the scene), we had our design finished. We thought it looked like it should be a New Yorker cartoon.
We sat on the design for a couple of days to make sure we were happy with it, then as soon as I sent the artwork off to the plate manufacturers to print, Lilly had an attack of second thoughts, worrying it was too weird. It was too late though, and after a couple of days’ wait, the plates arrived and we were in print.
Once they were all made, Lilly became a believer again, so into the postbox they went!
Merry Christmas to everyone, whatever your faith or washing machine brand!